Sunday Spotlight – Tete Essien

Introduce us to yourself!

Hey, I’m Tete, a singer-songwriter from Bromley and I’m at the start of trying to cultivate a place for myself in music. I’ve made music for a while, in bands and on my own, but now I’m firmly on my own and enjoying the process of the way that works. I’m excited to see where I can take it.

How did you start out?

I’ve written for a couple of years, so when my last group disbanded I was left with a bunch of things left over, but no particular idea what to do with them. The Animal Farm were originally in contact with my group, we were set to record some stuff through them, so I sent them some of my own stuff and when they got back to me with their excitement, it felt like there might be gas to cook with. I wasn’t sure that being a solo musician was something I was interested in but I’ve twisted my own arm a bit and it’s sitting more comfortably on my shoulders now.

Describe your sound.

There’s indie sensibilities and pop moments, it’s quite guitar focussed but I probably see it more as being music made with a guitar than exclusively guitar music. Strong rhythms and grooves, with a crunchy guitar or two. 

What influences your craft?

I’m influenced by the sorts of artists who have a clear vision of what they want to make. It’s easy to overcomplicate things and that usually just gets in the way of the original idea. A simple premise executed with conviction trumps that for me time and time again. I just want to make the music I want to listen to, so my influences are whatever nudges me in that direction. 

What makes your project different?

Just playing the guitar these days sets you apart for some people. You tell them and they look at you like you’re on about some kind of anachronism, like a lute or something. Seriously though, I think the variety of sounds from which I draw influence, the way they come together and meld in the melting pot, it’s my interpretation of all of that and that makes it mine, solely. 

When introducing people to your music, what song should I show them first? What is your quintessential track?

I’ve only got two out so you can start where you like, flip a coin! I’d probably go with Aviator first, though. In terms of introductions, I always thought it would be a good one. It gets out of the traps quickly enough but leaves enough of an impression. If we’re about setting our stalls out, it does the trick. 

What has been the biggest struggle in your career so far?

The biggest struggle is always an internal one for me. Whether I’m onto something at all with this, or if I’m devoting too much time to something that won’t pay off. I can be between two ferns with it and I swing sometimes, but I usually come back home to it. Keeping the momentum and the will to strive for these outcomes when the odds seem slim is something I battle with. Right now, though, we’re in a lift and not a pitfall so let’s hope the feeling lasts. 

What has been the biggest highlight in your career so far?

Probably having my first single, Aviator, played on the radio. It was only local radio but that was still a massive high for me, because they didn’t have to, you know? It’s little encouragements like that that I really enjoy, and also haven’t achieved much else just yet. You never know, but I’m hopeful it’s a gradual step in the right direction. Always nice getting to tell a girl you’ve been played on the radio too, not that that’s something I do.

How bright is the future of your project – what are the plans?

The plan is always to make things better, the writing, my singing, my performing. You take little runs until they turn into strides, look behind you and suddenly you’ve travelled further than even you thought you had. I want to keep releasing music, good songs, so I can earn the right to continue with it. I’m dogged and determined to have a crack at this, and I’ll take it as far as I can. In the immediate future, though, you can expect another single. 

When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

If people went, “he was funny, charming and handsome, made some mistakes, but he gave it all to the things that mattered to him”, I’d like that, or some iteration. Not to eulogise myself, but any friends of mine reading this, take note.

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